January 8, 2019
When You Need to Divide Property Between Co-Owners
There are a number of settings where co-owners may feel the need to divide property. Take for example the engaged couple who buy a parcel of land together in anticipation of building their marital home. As they begin to plan the wedding, they realize they can’t imagine a lifetime together. Losing the deposit on the reception hall may seem minor when it comes to their concerns about the real property they bought together.
Of course, that’s just one scenario where co-owners need to divide property. Consider the case when parents leave acres of land to be shared among their children. Division of property ownership can also be an issue in investment partnerships.
In all of these situations, the remedy might appear somewhat obvious. Put the land parcels up for sale and split up the gains or losses. Although this might seem simple enough, it’s not always a viable solution.
For starters, take the unmarried couple who decided a wedding was not in their future. Their relationship may already be contentious. All things considered, they may squabble on setting a sale price or accepting offers that allow them to move on.
That said, there are other options. If feasible, the co-owners may come up with an equitable split of the property. The joint owners would then make their own decisions concerning the use of their individual parcels of land. However, what happens when co-owners can’t negotiate the division on their own?
Partition Action by Co-Owner
In real estate disputes regarding the division of property between co-owners, it may be necessary to go to court. An experienced real estate attorney can provide you with advice concerning the pursuit of a partition action.
More than likely, you already think of a partition as a divider of sorts. For example, some partitions are set up in offices to set up work cubicles. A partition may be also be used as a temporary structure in place of a door to split up rooms in a house.
When it comes to parcels of land, a co-owner petitions the court to request proportionate division of jointly held property. The Pennsylvania law regarding partition actions is found in the Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically in Rules 1551 – 1574.
The venue for partition action depends on the location of the subject property. For example, if there is a dispute about division of land parcels in Carbondale or Old Forge, the case would be filed in Lackawanna County. The matter will be considered at the courthouse in Scranton. Quite simply, partition actions are venued in the county where the property is located.
The process generally requires submittal of appraisals and an understanding of the proportionate share of each of the parties. In fact, the initial court filing must include a description of the property, as well as a representation regarding the interests of each of each of the co-owners.
Although the parties are encouraged to negotiate their claims, the court may be called upon to enter an order directing the partition. This can also be done if one of the joint owners fails to appear and is found to be in default.
At Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano, we know that dividing property with co-owners can be stressful. We can help negotiate an amicable solution or file a partition action on your behalf. Contact us to see how we can help.